Akron, OH Thurman Munson Dies in Private Jet Crash, Aug 1979
Love For His Family Led To Munson Death
From Local And Wire Reports.
AKRON -- THURMAN MUNSON, a gruff, surly, hard-playing catcher whose personality was tempered by devotion to his family, was killed yesterday near his Canton home where he was spending a day off from the New York Yankees.
MUNSON, whose competition on the field and brutally honest comments in the locker-room made him appear heartless -- was in fact, a basically nice guy, who spent last winter getting a pilot's license so he could spend more time with his family in Canton.
It was that devotion which led to his death yesterday when he crashed his private jet while practicing take-offs and landings at the Akron-Canton airport.
After getting his pilot's license over the winter, MUNSON purchased a plane to be able to fly home during off days during the long baseball season.
MUNSON, 32, was about to land his Cessna-Citation twin-engine jet at Akron-Canton Regional Airport at 4 p. m. EDT, but the plane suddenly dipped, crashed 1,000 feet short of the runway and soon burst into flames, airport and FAA officials said.
MUNSON apparently was killed instantly. Two people flying with him managed to escape before the plane exploded. Co-pilot DAVID HALL, 32, and JERRY ANDERSON, 31, a friend of MUNSON'S, both of Canton, were hospitalized in fair condition.
MUNSON was in Canton Thursday, a day off for the Yankees, to spend time with his wife, DIANE, and their three children, TRACY LYNN, 9; KELLY, 8, and MICHAEL, 4.
"He bought the plane so he could go back and forth from Canton to be with his family," said Cleveland Indians President Gabe Paul, formerly president of the Yankees.
The airport director called Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and told him of MUNSON'S death. When Steinbrenner relayed the news to Billy Martin, the Yankee manager "cried like a baby," a club spokesman said.
Steinbrenner called MUNSON "a dear friend, a pal," and Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn called his death "an almost incredible loss" to baseball.
On the side of MUNSON'S plane, in blue lettering, was "15-N.Y." MUNSON'S uniform number with the Yankees was 15.
The Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1979-08-03